Michael Carter-Williams was not at Sixers practice on Wednesday because of flu-like symptoms.
The rookie is the lone player on the team who did not get a true break from basketball last weekend, because he was participating in both Friday night's Rising Stars Challenge and Saturday night's Skills Challenge in New Orleans.
Still, there is a growing trend with Carter-Williams that is play is tailing off. In Tuesday night's 114-85 loss to the Cavaliers, MCW had 15 points, one assist and seven turnovers. His one assist was a season low.
“There is no conspiracy theory out there,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “I think he is tired. I think the league is guarding him well. If you remember his recent game in Utah, he was great. He was a 6-6 point guard who ran the team with poise.”
In that game against the Jazz just before the break, Carter-Williams scored 19 points, making 7 of 9 attempts from the foul line. He also grabbed five rebounds and handed out eight assists.
“He ran the team,” Brown re-emphasized. “Anytime Michael isn’t thinking and acting like a point guard, the ripple effects are other people need some touches. We need to get the ball through some hands. He does have a skill where he can get to the rim, but at the end of the day he is a point guard.”
Point guards by definition get teammates involved. Carter-Williams increasingly looks to score first and pass second. Earlier in the season his priorities were reversed.
“Seven turnovers and one assist -- that is not Michael and he knows that,” Brown said. “Bottom line is he has to run our team and be a point guard, and he has perhaps hit a bit of a down patch.”
Carter-Williams had eight double-figure assist games in his first 17 appearances; he has had just one in the 26 games he has played since.
He is 11th in the league in assists, averaging 6.3 per game. However, his assist-to-turnover ratio among 45 point guards who qualify ranks 42nd at plus-1.75 (6.4 assists against 3.6 turnovers).
One of the characteristics of being on a rebuilding team is that Carter-Williams, as a first-year player, gets to make mistakes and play through them. Brown does not have a veteran point guard on his bench that knows the nuances of running an NBA team.
Carter-Williams is gaining experience, but he is also forming a foundation that will shape his NBA future.
On Friday, he'll have an opportunity show he is the point guard he was in Utah, as opposed to the seven-turnover player he was on Tuesday -- provided he recovers in time from his flu-like symptoms.